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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 168-182
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Supplementary Welfare Allowance Expenditure
 Header Item National Internship Scheme Administration
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Places
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Places
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications
 Header Item Seirbhísí Leasa Pobail
 Header Item Community Welfare Services
 Header Item School Meals Programme
 Header Item Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla
 Header Item Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla
 Header Item Bord Údarás na Gaeltachta

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 817 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 168-182

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 168. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; when a decision will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43489/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 4th October 2013, who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance Expenditure

 169. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if her Department assists with secondary school costs for twins, other than the clothing and footwear allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43505/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme provides a one-off payment to eligible families to assist with the extra costs when children start school each autumn. The Government has provided €48.8m for the scheme in 2013 assisting some 180,000 families.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off and unforeseen expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. The Government has provided over €47 million for the scheme in 2013. There is no automatic entitlement to a payment or predetermined amounts under the different categories for exceptional needs payments. It should be noted that ENPs are not intended to cover circumstances where responsibility rests with another Government Department.

National Internship Scheme Administration

 170. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the procedures in place to ensure that the internships being offered under the JobBridge scheme provide the interns with the experience as advertised by the employer; if the Department has duly appointed local officials in place to liaise with both the employer and the intern during their internship; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43512/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Department has a variety of monitoring and control measures in place to protect the intern and to ensure the integrity of the JobBridge scheme. An application from a host organisation must meet a number of criteria before advertisement on the JobBridge website. The internship must not displace an existing position and the host organisation must confirm that it will provide appropriate training and development as well as mentoring and support. For an internship to commence a Standard Agreement must be agreed and signed by both the intern and the host organisation setting out the terms of the internship, including the expected working hours and the specific learning outcomes the intern will gain over the course of their internship.

As part of its management of JobBridge, the Department conducts monitoring visits of host organisations to ensure they are offering their intern the work experience, training and mentoring required by the scheme. To date, over 3,000 monitoring site visits have been completed, and 98% of these visits were of a satisfactory nature. Remedial action is taken in cases of non-compliance.

In addition, an intern may contact the JobBridge team or their local social welfare office at any stage of their internship for advice and support and any individual who suspects that an internship may be in breach of the scheme’s criteria, including cases of suspected displacement and quality breaches, may contact the JobBridge team. All such matters are fully investigated. A host organisation or an employer considering participating in the scheme may also contact the JobBridge team or their local social welfare office for advice and support.

29 companies have been disqualified from participating in the scheme due to breaches of the terms and conditions. However, over 9,000 companies have participated in the scheme across all sectors and the overwhelming majority of companies are providing quality internships for jobseekers.

  Question No. 171 answered with Question No. 138.

Community Employment Schemes Places

 172. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her policy regarding community employment placements focusing on child care; if she has a national policy of consolidating the provision of these placements under a reduced number of dedicated child care sponsors; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43536/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Department of Social Protection (DSP) is consolidating and improving the provision of training and work experience for CE participants who wish to pursue a career in child care.

For CE participants who work directly with children, a dedicated programme comprising formal learning and supervised work experience will become a mandatory part of participation. This formal learning programme will lead to a FETAC Level 5 Major Award in Early Childhood Care and Education. This is the minimum entry requirement for a Child care Practitioner. The duration of this programme will comprise of 2 years in which the Major Award will be completed and one year work practice leading to a maximum 3 year programme overall.

This programme involves defined standards of achievement, a career progression path, and a structure for CE participants in Early Years Services. These changes are designed to provide a more tailored and valuable support to the provision of community child care and to achieve greater coherence between participation on CE and the job market.

The objectives of this policy are:

- to ensure that all Community Employment schemes with child care places will, in the future, operate under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Framework and use the Síolta standards (the quality standards in child care) as a developmental tool;

- to provide CE participants on child care) places who work directly with children with quality work experience, training, a clear progression path and qualifications in the child care) sector; and

- to re-align the allocation of CE child care) places under dedicated child care) schemes with the standards outlined by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

There will be no reduction in the number of child care) places supported under CE.

All CE child care) places will be co-ordinated and managed by a dedicated CE Sponsored Child care Scheme. The above improvements have been informed by consultation with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, County Child care Committees and representatives of Scheme Sponsors and Supervisors.

Community Employment Schemes Places

 173. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the safeguards that are in place for community employment schemes in circumstances where a scheme's child care places are redistributed to a different sponsor and this renders the original scheme non-viable due to a lack of numbers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43537/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Department of Social Protection (DSP) is improving the provision of training and work experience for CE participants who wish to pursue a career in child care. This involves defined standards of achievement, a career progression path, and a structure for CE participants in Early Years Services. These changes are designed to provide a more tailored and valuable support to the provision of community child care and achieve greater coherence between participation on CE and the job market.

All CE child care places will be under the management of dedicated child care sponsoring schemes. In circumstances where this involves the transfer of child care places from one scheme to another, the original scheme will be offered the option of proposing alternative work and training for the places foregone. In cases where the scheme does not avail of this, consideration will be given to joining with another scheme in order to ensure viability.

  Questions Nos. 174 and 175 withdrawn.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

 176. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if domiciliary care allowance will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [43571/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on the 18th September 2013. The application was disallowed as it was considered that the child does not meet the eligibility criteria for the allowance. A letter issued on the 7th October 2013 advising of the decision.

In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the decision to be reviewed or they may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within twenty one days.

Seirbhísí Leasa Pobail

 177. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Coimirce Sóisialaí Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton cén chaoi a bhfuil sé i gceist aici seirbhís Leasa Pobail trí Ghaeilge a chur ar fáil do phobal labhartha na Gaeilge i gConamara; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [43590/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Tá seirbhís leasa pobail Chonamara ar fáil anois ó oifigí na Roinne i gcathair na Gaillimhe agus sa Chlochán. Tá baill foirne sna hoifigí sin atá in ann seirbhís Ghaeilge a chur ar fáil agus beidh sé sin amhlaidh feasta. Féadann custaiméirí dul i dteagmháil leis an tseirbhís ar an bhfón, i r-phoist, leis an bpost nó trí ghlaoch ar an gclinic poiblí.

Community Welfare Services

 178. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the way it is intended to provide community welfare services on a face-to-face basis to those who do not own motor cars, in communities that have no public transport serving them, in view of her decision to withdraw these services from the community; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43644/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Department is currently examining the operation of all its services, including the community welfare service (CWS) in the context of the Pathways to Work commitments and the development of Intreo services nationally. The Pathways to Work Programme represents a significant reform in the social welfare system and highlighted the need for the Department to focus its resources on the provision of opportunities, supports and assistance to unemployed people. The Department is intensifying its level of engagement with the unemployed, in particular, those who are, or become, long-term unemployed. The new Intreo service offers practical, tailored employment services and supports for jobseekers, a model which is currently being rolled out across the country. It is expected that three hundred staff will be redeployed to activation work from within the Department’s existing resources by the end of the year.

Overall, this is resulting in a rebalancing of resources across the Department’s range of activities including the relocation of some staff to main centres, primarily Intreo offices, which will provide a full range of services, including the CWS and these will, in general, be available in one location.

Where the community welfare service has been re-structured, alternative arrangements have been put in place to ensure that customers are provided with on-going access to the supports provided by the service. In general, this means that the frequency of available public clinics has increased. Improved phone services have been put in place, allowing in many cases, for customer queries to be processed without having to attend a clinic on a face to face basis. If a person is unable to travel to a clinic, for example due to illness, alternative arrangements are in place including arranging a visit to the client’s home if necessary.

People claiming supports under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme generally only interact with the Department on an occasional basis, for example, when seeking an exceptional needs payment or in claiming additional supports such as rent or mortgage interest supplement which are usually reviewed once to twice yearly.

The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources with a view to providing an efficient service to those who rely on the schemes operated by the Department and that the services provided are reconstituted, where necessary, to meet the changing needs of Irish society.

School Meals Programme

 179. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the way she can justify a DEIS Band 1 school (details supplied) in County Galway receiving just €7,500 for a breakfast club, in view of the fact that the funding amount equates to just 15 cents per child; her views on whether the funding is significantly disproportionate to the amounts that other, less disadvantaged schools in the area are receiving; her views that granting funding to new clubs instead of existing, viable clubs is lacking in fairness; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43655/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food services for disadvantaged children through two schemes. The first is the statutory urban school meals scheme, operated by local authorities and part-financed by the Department. The second is the school meals local projects schemes through which funding is provided directly to participating schools and local and voluntary community groups who run their own school meals projects. The Government has allocated an additional €2 million for the school meals programme in 2013, providing a total allocation of €37 million.

  A total of some 1,000 schools/organisations received funding under the school meals local projects for the school year 2012/13. Priority for funding under the scheme is given to schools which are part of the Department of Education and Skills’ initiative for disadvantaged schools, ‘Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools’ (DEIS).   However, there is no automatic entitlement to funding and all applications must be considered in light of the available budget for the scheme.

  The school referred to by the Deputy has received over €68,000 in total funding under the school meals local projects scheme since 2004. For the previous academic year, 2012/2013, the school was allocated funding of €7,500 in respect of their application to run a breakfast club for 100 pupils, 4 days per week for 34 weeks.

  In the current academic year, the school applied for a significant increase in the level of funding in respect of a breakfast and lunch club for 267 pupils for 5 days across 36 weeks – requesting a total of over €105,000. The school has been allocated €7,500 to continue running the breakfast club as in previous years.

  The additional €2 million allocated to the school meals programme budget for 2013 is being used to extend the school meals local projects scheme to additional DEIS and special schools. The Department contacted approximately 170 schools requesting expressions of interest in participating in the scheme for the current school year. Expressions of interest in joining the scheme were received from approximately 90 schools and applications from over 50 schools have been processed to date. Bringing new schools into the scheme is considered the fairest way of ensuring as many DEIS schools and disadvantaged pupils as possible have access to some level of funding under the school meals local projects scheme.

  After the additional schools have finalised their food clubs, the Department will review the level of remaining funding available to DEIS schools which are currently participating in the programme. The school referred to by the Deputy will be examined as part of this process.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla

 180. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan cathain a chuirfear Cláir na dToghthóirí faoi réir Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla ionas go mbeidh seoltaí as Gaeilge agus as Béarla air. [43475/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Dinny McGinley): Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Ba mhaith liom aird an Theachta a dhíriú ar cheist ghaolmhar (Ceist Dála Uimhir 87) a d'fhreagair mé ar an 14 Meitheamh 2012. Is ceist don Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil é seo sa chéad áit.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla

 181. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan an bhfuil sé cinnte de go bhfuil chuile Roinn agus comhlacht Stáit ag cloí le forálacha Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 maidir lena dteideal a bheith scríofa i nGaeilge os cionn an leagain Bhéarla agus ar cóimhéid leis ar aon chomhartha agus ar aon bhileog pháipéir agus mura bhfuil, cé na bearta atá sé ag glacadh chun iallach a chur orthu a ndualgas faoin dlí a chomhlíonadh.  [43540/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Dinny McGinley): Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Is gnó é do chomhlachtaí poiblí a thagann faoi scáth Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 a chinntiú go gcomhlíontar na dualgais atá orthu faoin Acht agus faoi na Rialacháin a dhéantar faoin Acht. Faoi alt 21 den Acht, is ar Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga atá an cúram maidir le faireachán a dhéanamh ar chomhlíonadh fhorálacha an Achta ag comhlachtaí poiblí.

Bord Údarás na Gaeltachta

 182. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan an bhfuil céim i bpleanáil teanga ag aon duine de na comhaltaí a cheap sé ar bhord Údarás na Gaeltachta. [43541/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Dinny McGinley): Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Ní miste dom a mhíniú nach raibh an cháilíocht atá luaite ag an Teachta ar cheann de na riachtanais a bhí sonraithe san fhógra poiblí a rinne an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí ar son mo Roinne i mí Iúil 2012, inar lorgaíodh léirithe spéise ó dhaoine a raibh suim acu i gceapacháin chuig bord Údarás na Gaeltachta. Dá bhrí sin, ní raibh aon ghá d'iarratasóirí an t-eolas sin a chur ar fáil.

  Mar chuid den phróiseas roghnaithe, tugadh cuireadh do dhaoine sonraí a thabhairt maidir lena gcuid fostaíochta agus a gcuid cáilíochtaí acadúla chomh maith le léargas a thabhairt maidir lena gcumas in inniúlachtaí ar leith, lena n-airítear:

  - cur chun cinn na Gaeilge agus pleanáil teanga;

  - forbairt fiontraíochta agus cruthú fostaíochta;

  - forbairt pobail; agus

  - cur chun cinn na n-ealaíon.

  Is mian liom a chur in iúl don Teachta go bhfuil réimse leathan taithí, scileanna agus cáilíochtaí ag na comhaltaí atá ceaptha ar an mbord, lena n-áirítear an phleanáil teanga, cé nach féidir liom a dheimhniú go bhfuil céim sa phleanáil teanga i gceist in aon chás i gcomhthéacs an méid atá ráite agam.


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